The renovations at my house are over, and now I’m putting the rest of it back in some order. I do love my new shower. I wish I could refurbish a few more things, but I’m not anywhere near ready to move items around and block off part of the house so that the boys won’t wander where they shouldn’t.
I found something joyful during this process, something I had not experienced for quite some time. It was such an unexpected feeling that I find myself looking forward to its repetition whenever possible. It is a simple something that I can enjoy from the comfort of my rocking chair and not have to go wandering about to find it. Of course, it doesn’t last long, but even a few minutes of what I’ve begun calling my “Jolt of joy” is enough to lighten my mood and lift my heart.
I have some prisms in my living room window on the northwest side. The tree outside is quite a bit thinner of branches this year, so I get more direct afternoon sun. Now and then, in the late afternoon, the sun hits a prism, and I find a spot of a rainbow on the ceiling. Soon there are more dots of prismatic color, and my heart soars. It’s simple to sit there and look at them without thinking of anything but instead just letting my mind open up to the beauty I see. It becomes a time of contemplation which I’m beginning to count on as a God-given period just to be, see, and enjoy.
Prisms are pieces of glass that break light into seven distinct colors to make up a rainbow. Every child in school learns at some time or other to use the mnemonic of ROY G BIV to remind them of the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet we see as the light passes through angles and planes of glass. Noah built an ark, gathered up his family and representatives of all the animals, and put them in the ark as God commanded. Then God sent enough rain to flood the entire earth, drowning the land, animals, birds, and even all the people except those in the vessel. When the land emerged from the receding waters, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a visual sign of God’s promise never to destroy the whole earth by flood again. I do not always think of Noah when I see a rainbow, especially a double one, but I can’t seem to get enough of the colors while I can see them.
Rainbows remind me of natural stained-glass windows. In churches, public buildings, galleries, sometimes private homes, stained glass represents pictures, designs, and stories told in bits of colored glass used to teach and remind even the illiterate of things and people to be remembered when seen. I loved going to the National Cathedral to see the magnificent stained glass. One of my favorites is the Space Window, a blue-shaded glass representing the vastness of space, then a sphere that signifies the moon itself. In a clear-glass bubble is a dark shape that is an actual rock from the moon’s surface. Other windows in other churches I have visited have been as complex and colorful as those at the Cathedral in D.C. or simple blocks and lines of color with no particular outline or shape. For me, it is all about the color.
It isn’t all about rainbows and colors, though. I look out my window from my computer desk toward several trees across the street with their layers of green due to the natural colors of the leaves and the shades and hues the light of the sun gives them. I remember the vivid blue of the South China Sea and the dancing diamonds of the wavelets as they sparkled in the sun. I love the brilliant red of the Japanese Maple in fall, especially when it contrasts with other trees whose leaves are orange, yellow or even the many shades of evergreens. Then, there are the shaded browns and tans of the natural formations polished by wind and water in Antelope Canyon, or the white flowers of dogwood and pinkish-red of the redbuds I saw as I drove through the spring forest back home. I didn’t know them as jolts of joy then, but now, as I remember them, their memories have sharpened over the years, and I’ve learned to see them as moments of beauty and color, things that represent joy to me.
I think that for some people, joy might be diamonds, big houses, shiny new cars, trips to foreign places, or any one of a million things. For me, though, I’ve found the simple things (or sometimes more complex ones) remind me that joy is a gift to be treasured. I don’t think God would have spent a lot of time creating a world without so many colors, shapes, textures, and sizes had God not enjoyed the process so much. So undoubtedly, I should take every possible moment to enjoy them and send up a small arrow prayer toward heaven to say, “Thank you.”
Where do you find your jolts of joy?
Image: Rainbow in a Garden from a sprinkler. Mt Barker, South Australia. Image via Kiddle Encyclopedia, From Photwik Photographer for Kiddle.co., 2 January 2019. Found at Wikimedia Commons.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, lover of Baroque and Renaissance music, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives with her three cats near Phoenix, Arizona.